Just a little over a week ago,
when he was told the incredible news
that the disciples had seen the Lord,
Thomas did not hesitate
to set his conditions for believing:
“Unless I see and touch his wounds,
I will not believe.”

When the Risen Lord showed up
the next time around,
he didn’t castigate Thomas.

I suspect that if we had been the Lord,
we would have done exactly that:
“How dare you…?!”

But instead our Lord greeted Thomas with peace
and immediately delivered the conditions
he had set, inviting him to believe:

“Put your finger here,
and see my hands.
Put out your hand,
and place it in my side.”

The Incredulity of Thomas (Guercino)

The usual takeaway from this Gospel story
is that all of us are invited to believe in Jesus
without the benefit of seeing and touching Him.

When you think about it,
contrary to what most people think,
such is, in fact, the nature of faith.

Faith does not mean being 100% sure.
It’s the exact opposite:
Faith means trusting
and committing to someone
precisely because we don’t have 100% certainty.
If we had the benefit of certainty,
strictly speaking, that would be knowledge,
not faith.

For this retreat, however,
this encounter between Thomas
and the Risen Lord
takes on new significance.

We have discussed
how our Lord was not afraid of infections.
He did not let them get in the way
of helping people.
With his bare and loving hands,
he touched lepers
while everyone else refused to touch them.
And instead of getting infected, he healed them.

But we also saw that on the cross–
as foreshadowed ibyn Isaiah
in the Suffering Servant of Yahweh–
our Lord became a virtual leper himself,
exhibiting all the attributes
of one who was infected,
and eliciting all the usual repulsions
from people who did not want
to catch the infection.

On his cross, Jesus allowed himself
to be infected with the ravages of our sins
in order to heal us and save us from sin.

Given all that,
having Thomas touch his wounds
was unthinkable.

As we know all too well these days,
that’s a huge no-no.
Keep you distance from those
who have been infected–
much less, stick your finger into their wounds.

But that’s exactly
what the Risen Lord invited Thomas to do.
The result was not spiritual infection,
but in fact, spiritual inoculation and healing.

The Resurrected Christ

Stretching the medical metaphor further:
it’s almost as if our Lord allowed himself
to get infected
in order to develop the spiritual antibodies
to combat the virus of sin.

If we draw close to him and touch his wounds,
he will disinfect us,
offering us a protection
from the pandemic of sin.

Just like a vaccine,
the Risen Lord will help us strengthen
our spiritual immunity.

For this reason, we should refrain
from any spiritual distancing from Jesus.

Against the usual medical advice,
we ought to stay close to him,
and expose ourselves to the Lord
for our much-needed spiritual disinfection.